Dolphins are growing at a significant rate in the Sundarbans: Minister for Climate Change
By Adnan Mahfuz
“The growth rate of dolphins in Dhangmari, Ghaghramari, and Chandpai sanctuaries in the Sundarbans is 55 percent, which is a milestone in the conservation of the country’s dolphins,” said Mr. Shahab Uddin, the Minister, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
He said the number of dolphins in the Sundarbans is increasing at a significant rate due to government activities’ success.
The minister said most fish are found in parts of the river where freshwater dolphins, known as Shushuk or Gangetic dolphins in Bangladesh, are available. If dolphins can be protected, it is also possible to save the ecology of the river. So the government is working hard to protect the freshwater dolphins in the country’s rivers.
The minister was speaking as the chief guest at a webinar organized by the Forest Department on Saturday (October 24) on International Freshwater Dolphin Day 2020 through video conference.
Begum Habibun Nahar, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change was present as a special guest, Mr. Ziaul Hasan, Secretary, and Dr. Md. Billal Hossain, Additional Secretary, also spoke at the webinar.
Rakibul Amin, Country Representative of IUCN Bangladesh, Dr. Muhammad Abdul Aziz, Professor Jahangirnagar University, was present as a negotiator, and Mukit Majumder Babu, Chairman, Nature and Life Foundation also addressed there. Amir Hossain Chowdhury, Chief Forest Conservator of the Forest Department. Presided over the webinar.
Referring to the government’s various initiatives for the conservation of dolphins, the Forest Minister said the government has so far declared nine dolphin sanctuaries in the country. The Dolphin Action Plan and the Atlas on Dolphin Expansion within the country have been prepared.
The number of dolphins in the Halda River has been determined, and a management plan has been formulated. Community-based resource management plans have been developed for three dolphin sanctuaries in the Sundarbans.
The Wildlife (Conservation and Protection) Act, Bangladesh, includes killing a dolphin is a maximum of three years imprisonment or a fine of up to Tk.0.3 million or both, and for repeating the same offense, the punishment is up to 5 years imprisonment or a fine of up to Taka 0.5 million or both.
The environment minister said seven 70-member local dolphin conservation teams were formed to conserve dolphins in the Sundarbans, and dolphin conservation activities are being conducted with direct participation.
Training and alternative income-generating financial assistance has been provided to one thousand people dependent on the fishery resources adjacent to the Dolphin Sanctuary in the Sundarbans. Appropriate training has been provided to the Dolphin Conservation Team and the concerned forest personnel.
Various school-college and community-based dolphin awareness activities are also being conducted, including organizing dolphin fairs.
The minister said the ministry would seriously consider declaring freshwater dolphins as national freshwater animals.